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This article is about the first Grand Theft Auto game. For other uses, see Grand Theft Auto (disambiguation).

SpeakerSymbolLogo
Quotation Da Shootaz - Grand Theft Auto (Grand Theft Auto Theme) QuotationReverse

Grand Theft Auto series chronology of events
1961London 1961
1969London 1969
1986Vice City
1992San Andreas
1997Grand Theft Auto
1999Grand Theft Auto 2 (possibly)
2013Grand Theft Auto 2 (possibly)
Drive dozens of varied vehicles around three of America's toughest cities. Only the best will be able to tame the fastest cars. Only the smartest will know all the shortcuts and the whereabouts of the hottest wheels. Only the toughest will be able to take on the world and finish the job like a professional...
— Official Description
The police are about to have a real bad day.
GTA slogan

Grand Theft Auto, also referred to as Grand Theft Auto 1 in order to differentiate between the original game and the series' individual titles, is the first game in the Grand Theft Auto series, developed by DMA Design and published by BMG Interactive. The game was originally released on November 28th, 1997[1], for PC and December 14th, 1997, for PlayStation. A Game Boy Color port developed by Tarantula Studios released on November 22nd, 1999. It is also one of the 20 preloaded games on the PlayStation Classic console, released in December 2018.

Grand Theft Auto: London 1969 was made as an expansion pack for GTA, and Grand Theft Auto: London 1961 was in turn an expansion pack for London 1969. Both of these games require the original GTA disc to work.

The game is set in 1997 in three American cities: Liberty City (including its neighbouring state of New Guernsey as part of the same map), San Andreas, and Vice City. The player chooses the role of one of a group of eight silent criminals, four males and four females, looking to work their way up the career ladder of the cities' organized crime.

The project was originally named as Race'n'Chase.

Plot[]

For an overview on the GTA Protagonist's history and plot details, see here.

The story revolves around a silent criminal hired by the Liberty City-based Vercotti Crime Family to assist in their various crimes, as a hired goon and as a getaway driver for bank jobs. Later, they help take down the New Guernsey-based Sonetti Crime Family's crime operation.

Eventually, after attaining too much attention from the cops, Bubby books the protagonist a flight to San Andreas, where they are hired by a Chinese crime syndicate led by Uncle Fu, and the protagonist helps them in expanding their crime businesses throughout the city. They are later introduced to the Mexican gangster El Burro, helping him and his gang in several criminal activities and killing suspected traitors of the gang.

They later decide to move to Vice City, where they are blackmailed by the corrupt Vice Squad officer Samuel Deever to do his dirty work, claiming he's got evidence of all of the protagonist's previous crimes that would put them in jail for life. They are forced to help Deever start a war against the Brotherhood of Jah Army of Love (also known as the Rastas), a Jamaican gang who have been waging a campaign of terror for over 7 years. The gang's leader Brother Marcus eventually convinces them to join forces with the Rastas by giving them a lot of protection against Deever and his squad.

After doing several jobs for Brother Marcus and helping his gang, Brother Marcus calls the protagonist one last time, asking them to meet him to collect their retirement pay, implying the end of the protagonist's career as a criminal.

Gameplay[]

The original Grand Theft Auto is made up of a series of levels each set in one of the three cities in the game. In each level, the player has a target number of points to achieve, and five lives to attain the score.

The score counter doubles as a money meter; the player can spend this money on paint jobs and various other things. However, any money spent is of course taken away from the score, making the goal that little bit further away.

On obtaining the target number of points, the player must then drive to a certain location to complete

Gta24 000

A collision at an intersection.

the level, which allows progress to the next one.

Apart from that, the player is free to do whatever they want. The player can just explore the city, cause death and destruction, or steal and sell cars for profit, although completing a level will almost certainly require the completion of missions. Even in missions there is still some freedom, as usually the player is free to choose the route to take, although the destination is usually fixed. This level of freedom was not found in most action-based computer games at the time. Be mindful that free roam has its limits (unlike Grand Theft Auto III and its successors), most notable having a limited number of lives, as once the player loses lives by becoming repeatedly killed, they will be redirected to the results. And unlike the later games in the series, the player can be killed in one hit unless they are wearing body armor (though it only protects them from bullet fire).

Weapons[]

Main article: Weapons in GTA

Walking-GTA1pc

Walking in Vice City, PC version

  • Fist - People cannot be killed with this weapon. However, it can immobilize enemies for a few seconds.
  • Pistol - Slow firing rate, but kills with one shot. Lots of ammo can be found around the cities. It is always near hospitals and police stations, and is the standard weapon of cops and criminals.
  • Machine Gun - Rapid rate of fire, but it is only in specified places and it doesn't have much ammo. It is used by police when player has wanted level of four.
  • Rocket Launcher - Only used for destroying vehicles, but buildings will also catch fire when shot. It is found only in rare places.
  • Flamethrower - Can easily blow up a car or catch people on fire. It is most useful for killing groups of enemies, but it is a rare weapon.

There are some burps and farts too, as specials, but have no effect on any enemy and pedestrians.

Earning points[]

There are various ways in which to earn the points needed to complete each level.

Some points can be earned by committing various crimes, such as ramming cars (10 points each), and killing police (1000 each). The more serious the crime, the more points, but also the more the police will pay attention to the player. Another way to make money is to steal cars, and sell them at the many docks around each city, usually earning several thousand points.

These activities can give the player quite a number of points but they are not sufficient to earn the millions of points needed to complete each level (unless the player has a lot of patience), so it is necessary to take on missions to complete a level. On successful completion of a mission, the player gets 'paid', a large amount of points. A typical payment is in the region of 50,000 points.

Also after completing a mission, the score multiplier is increased by one. The score multiplier is multiplied by the normal score for something, to get the points actually awarded. For example a multiplier of three will mean that the player gets three time the regular amount of points, so 30 points for ramming a car, rather than the normal 10 points. This applies for anything points are awarded for, including the payment for completing a mission.

In the Gameboy port, score multipliers are handled differently. The player can collect floating "X"'s hidden in each city, that automatically add a multiplier to the score counter. The first time one is picked up it says "×2", the second time it says "×3", and so on. This only affects points gained after acquiring the multiplier, not the points the player already has, so it is in the player's best interests to seek the "X"'s as soon as possible. Multiplier does not disappear if the player is arrested in this port.

Locations[]

The three cities in which the game is set are modeled after certain cities, in terms of landscape and style. They are Liberty City (New York City) including its neighboring State of New Guernsey (New Jersey), San Andreas (San Francisco), and Vice City (Miami).

Those three cities later became the settings for the 3D era games and HD era games. In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, San Andreas is expanded from a city to an American state, which contains three major cities of its own: Los Santos (Los Angeles), San Fierro (San Francisco) and Las Venturas (Las Vegas). The state of New Guernsey later became the State of Alderney in Grand Theft Auto IV.

Missions[]

Main article: Missions in GTA

In most cases, missions are started by answering telephones, although some missions are allocated on the spot, or are triggered by entering certain vehicles. Once a phone is touched, the player is stuck doing that mission until they pass or fail it, but with the cars it is different. The player is told "I've got a new job for you, if you want it. Otherwise get the hell out of my car." They then have a few seconds to jump out before that mission begins.

The payphones all stop ringing while a player is on a phone mission, but the car missions are still available. By accepting a car mission the player can override a phone mission (failing it but without a failure notice) and do that mission instead, but a phone mission cannot override a car mission as the phones stop ringing.

At the start of each mission, the player will be given a series of instructions they must follow. The instructions are given in stages, so the objectives can change in a given situation.

Many of the missions involve tasks that can be completed at the player's own pace, so the player can take a leisurely pace, and observe the traffic laws, although there is always a temptation to cut corners. However, sometimes the game imposes time limits on mission completion, or there may be people giving chase, such as enemy gangsters, or the police, forcing the player to cut corners, to get to the destination on time and/or evade the pursuers. This means running red lights, driving on the sidewalk (risking running over pedestrians), and finding shortcuts.

Police[]

Law enforcement in GTA is generally characterized as an obstacle in the game, appearing in the force of police officers who are ready to pursue, arrest, and kill the player if they have committed sufficient criminal acts. The player's wanted level is defined by the number of police heads seen on top of the screen. The more crime the player commits, the more determined the police will be to subdue them. The player can have up to four police heads, which at this point leads to very hostile officers.

There are only two ways to eliminate the player's wanted level: by either driving their vehicle to a spray shop, or picking up a "cop bribe" pickup in certain parts of each city.

Multiplayer[]

Despite its age, GTA even included a multiplayer function, which allowed players to battle with human opponents. This was possible over either a LAN connection or using a null modem cable.

Console Ports and Demo Versions[]

The original Grand Theft Auto was first available for DOS, and then later ported to Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, and Game Boy Color. A Sega Saturn version was also planned, but canceled early, and there are rumors that Grand Theft Auto 64 was also a port for GTA.

Shareware Demos[]

Hot Bitch Teaser[]

"Hot Bitch Teaser" (setup tile) was the first free demonstration for the game, and can be downloaded on the official Rockstar's website for GTA. There are three versions for different software: one with 3DFX compatibility, one with 8-bit compatibility, and one with 24-bit compatibility. The 8-bit has a simpler graphics set.

It is a demo for the game's first level, Gangsta Bang, featuring all the protagonists and the four phone missions from Bubby. However, there is no soundtrack or sound effects and the player is not able to play the four on the same playthrough because the demo is limited to 6 minutes of gameplay. After these 6 minutes, the game will automatically take the player to the score screen.

Oddly, if the player attempts to enter the secret vehicle missions, the game will display a different dialogue mocking the player for not being able to play those missions.

ECTS Competition[]

"ECTS Competition" (setup title) was the second demonstration for the game, available at an unknown time after "Hot Bitch Teaser" on Rockstar's website. Unlike the first demo, it has only 3DFX compatibility, making more difficult to emulate this demo on modern computers.

This demo features the sound effects and part of the soundtrack, and is an altered version of the mission Tequila Slammer - Phone 3: Mission 1. The demo begins with the protagonist already in southeast Excalibur, a Machine Gun and an Armor in crates and a Speeder are provided nearby. Unlike the full game mission, where the player has to kill eight police officers, the demo has only five. The targets in southwest Marina, southeast Aye Valley and east Woodside are removed, and after killing the last target at Sunview the demo ends. Each time the player kills one of the five cops a big letter message instead of dialogue is displayed stating the number of remaining targets, something absent on the retail versions.

Ports[]

PlayStation[]

The PlayStation version of the game is a very accurate recreation of the original DOS game. The soundtrack is still the same, but there are graphics downgrades: the three towns are now more colorful and less detailed. Two missions also have been removed due to hardware limitations: Gangsta Bang - Counthash and Heist Almighty - Itali. Both of these missions have the player entering a train, and because trains are absent in the PlayStation version, these missions have been removed.

Later, the PlayStation version received a port of the London 1969 expansion pack which shared the same graphic downgrade and requires the GTA CD to play. There is also stand-alone version (without the need for the GTA CD) of London 1969 for PlayStation, but it was only released in the UK.

This game was re-released in a pack in 2002 as part of the Grand Theft Auto: Collectors' Edition for the PlayStation and later in 2004 for PC.

Game Boy Color[]

Surprisingly, the Game Boy Color version was unabridged, which was quite a technical achievement due to the sheer size of the cities, converted tile-for-tile from the PC original, making them many times larger than most Game Boy Color game worlds were because of the handheld's limited hardware. It is also playable on the original Game Boy system, sacrificing only the color palette for playability. To cater for the target younger generation, however, the game was heavily censored, with gore and swearing removed. This Game Boy Color version also had an exclusive character named Kelly, who could be renamed Sumner, and activate a cheat code which unlocks 15 characters, based on the games' creator. Wanted Levels were represented by a trouble bar in the Game Boy Color.

But the GBC port still displays technical limitations. For example, Pedestrians rarely ever spawn on the streets, unless the Protagonist is driving a vehicle, and the Police have notoriously inferior AI that can result in cars spawning and being trapped behind a building before they even come close to the player's position. These make most combat outside of missions highly impractical, and evading the police is turned into a cakewalk, even at the highest wanted level.

The game also features a radically different soundtrack from the PC and PS1 versions, replacing all the songs that play on the radio and menus in those versions with 8-bit instrumental tracks composed by Anthony Paton.

Soundtrack[]

The game features seven radio stations, all of which can be heard once the player enters a car, setting a feature that would become a mainstay in the game series. All the songs on this soundtrack are original creations produced by the Rockstar staff. All of the tracks were composed by Colin Anderson, Craig Conner and Grant Middleton circa 1997.

On November 28th, 2022, during Grand Theft Auto's 25th Anniversary, Colin Anderson uploaded definitive mixes of the tracks he wrote and recorded for the original game on his official YouTube channel, including "The Ballad Of Chapped Lips Calhoun", "Just Do It", "On The Move", "Aori", "Pootang Shebang" and "4 Letter Love".

"The Ballad Of Chapped Lips Calhoun" by 'Sideways' Hank O'Mally & The Alabama Bottle Boys
(25th Anniversary Mix)
"Just Do It" by Bleeding Stump
(25th Anniversary Mix)
"On The Move" by Ghetto Fingers
(25th Anniversary Mix)
"Aori" by Ashtar
(25th Anniversary Mix)

"Pootang Shebang" by Stylus Exodus
(25th Anniversary Mix)

"4 Letter Love" by Stikki Fingerz
(25th Anniversary Mix)

Development[]

Main article: Credits in GTA

See also: N-CT FM

Through interviews with the early GTA developers and staff members, we know that during the development of the first game they had the general idea of pushing the boundaries of what a game could offer at the time, and that each member could bring up any ideas they could imagine to include in the game.[2] One of the first elements that was proposed was to let the game have different radios with different music genres, an idea that at first wasn't really accepted by all the staff and had some skeptics.[3] The general atmosphere of the company at the time needs to be understood, there was some friction between the members because the game had been stuck in "development hell" for years,[4] owing to the difficulties in coding and compiling so many complex features (the mix of driving, open-city exploration and shooter genres in particular)[5] that were proposed and that, up until then, no game had featured in such a manner.[6] The staff was particularly worried that the public misunderstood the game as an "inferior 2D driving game in top-view" at a time that 3D-graphics racing-genre games were in full swing.

The staff had fantasized for a long time about getting the licenses to major hits and to have access to great catalogues of music,[7] something that wouldn't truly be realized until Grand Theft Auto: Vice City as the music industry didn't believe in videogames as a medium at the time. Thus, they had to produce original music with mock radio stations and fictional artists. The members had freedom to come up with different ideas and to produce them. Two members in particular were crucial for producing those early tracks: Colin Anderson (who dealt with rock, funk and country tracks) and Craig Conner (who dealt with electronic, pop and hip-hop tracks).

Conner, then an indie music producer who had recently been hired, was struggling to produce the hip hop tracks as he was more of an electronic music enthusiast and had never rapped,[8] so he teamed up with Johnny Wilson (who adopted the alias "Robert De Negro"), which was "a tall, black guy who was a student of Chemistry at Dundee University", in the words of early GTA developer David Jones.[9] The objective was clear: to make a hip hop song that synthesized all what a Grand Theft Auto game was about, and thus they created the song "Grand Theft Auto". The track was so popular amongst the staff that it convinced them to definitely move on with having different radios, and the song itself became from then on the flag of intent into what a GTA song should be.

According to GTA artist Paul Reeves, he and several others working on DMA Design's other game, Body Harvest, suggested at the time that the original GTA game could be a 3rd person experience in a 3D world, similar to how Grand Theft Auto III would later end up. Unfortunately for the team at the time, this fell on deaf ears.[10]

Reception[]

PC & PlayStation 1 Versions[]

Grand Theft Auto received mixed to average reviews, with mostly averaging 6s to 7s out of 10.

GameSpot awarded the PC version a 6.4/10 while the PS1 version received a more favorable 8/10. In their review they praised the unique soundtrack and the freedom of choice, while criticizing the graphics, calling it "a little plain".

Next Generation awarded the game with 4 stars out of 5; they stated in their review that "It is quite easy to accuse Grand Theft Auto of being all style and no substance, but the charge doesn't stick. Of course, we don't condone the acts within, but there is no denying that the game itself is well-executed and quite enjoyable."

GameRankings awarded the PC version with 79% and the PS1 version with 68%.

GameRevolution awarded the game with a B rating.

Computer and Video Games awarded the game with 7/10.

The UK PlayStation Official Magazine awarded the PS1 version with 7/10.

Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded the game with 6.5/10.

IGN awarded the game with a 6/10, saying in their review that GTA is a fun game but with some major problems that could've been fixed.

GamePro were the least favorable, awarding the game with 2 stars out of 5.

GBC Version[]

The Game Boy Color port of Grand Theft Auto has received less favorable reviews than the PC and PS1 versions.

GameRankings awarded the port with a 57% out of 100%.

Nintendo Power awarded the port with a slightly more favorable 6.2/10.

Sales[]

Grand Theft Auto went to sell over 1 million copies in 1998 and 3 million copies in its lifespan. And despite the mediocre reception, it was considered to be a commercial success.

Controversy[]

The game, with its violent subject matter, generated a great deal of controversy. However, this was deemed to be intentional, and was the first game known to have been publicized in such a way. Take-Two Interactive, the publishers of Grand Theft Auto, hired publicist Max Clifford to generate an aura of controversy about the game in the local media. As a result, politicians stepped into the fray. Whatever the impact on game censorship and the perception of video gaming, the publicity worked - the title was hugely successful simply because those attempting to ban the game were inadvertently generating publicity for it. This has been a known and recognized phenomenon of violent video games ever since its release. The game was banned in Brazil and, temporarily, Britain for its content.

Gallery[]

Videos[]

BMG Interactive 1997 commercial featuring Grand Theft Auto for PlayStation
UK 1998 Grand Theft Auto TV commercial

Trivia[]

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  • One of the hidden Easter Eggs in the game is the now famous "Gouranga" bonus, given for swiftly killing an entire group of Hare Krishna monks.
  • The box art for the PC version in the US features the infinite lives cheat "6031769" on the car's license plate. This is a reference to the old British computer game Manic Miner, which also featured "6031769" as a cheat code, which was based on the driving licence of Matthew Smith, the programmer of Manic Miner.
  • Grand Theft Auto resulted from a glitch in an earlier DMA Designs game, Race'n'Chase. The glitch made the police attempt to run the player's car off the road rather than pulling them over; it was so popular with playtesters that the game was reworked to focus on the behavior.
  • The typeface (font) used on the logo for the game is "Powerhouse", which is also used as a homage on the Tiny Racers logo in Grand Theft Auto Online to reference the top-down gameplay of the original Grand Theft Auto.
  • The tower depicted on the box art is the Trump Tower, owned by Donald Trump.
  • There is a graphical glitch where, if the player achieves a multiplier of 10x, the number showing the player's lives will disappear, resulting in the player being unable to know how many lives they have left.
    • This could be caused by the double digits.

See Also[]

References[]

Navigation[]

[ ve ]Grand Theft Auto series
Grand Theft AutoProtagonists | Liberty City (and New Guernsey) | San Andreas | Vice City | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: London
London 1969Protagonists | London | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
London 1961Protagonists | London | Manchester | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto 2Claude Speed/GBC Protagonists | Anywhere City (Downtown | Residential | Industrial) | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto IIIClaude | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Vice CityTommy Vercetti | Vice City | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: San AndreasCarl Johnson | State of San Andreas (Los SantosSan FierroLas VenturasRed CountyFlint CountyWhetstoneBone CountyTierra Robada) | Characters | Missions | Gangs | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto AdvanceMike | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Soundtrack | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City StoriesToni Cipriani | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City StoriesVictor Vance | Vice City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto IVNiko Bellic | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Episodes from Liberty City
The Lost and DamnedJohnny Klebitz | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
The Ballad of Gay TonyLuis Fernando Lopez | Liberty City | Alderney | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown WarsHuang Lee | Liberty City | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto VMichael De Santa | Trevor Philips | Franklin Clinton | Southern San Andreas (Los Santos (County) | Blaine County) | State of North Yankton (Ludendorff) | Characters | Gangs | Missions | Weapons | Vehicles | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Grand Theft Auto OnlineGTA Online Protagonist (Crews | Organizations | Motorcycle Clubs) | Southern San Andreas (Los Santos (County) | Blaine County) | The Caribbean (Cayo Perico) | Missions | Jobs | Gangs | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Reputation (Arena Points | LS Car Meet) | Content Updates | Events | Achievements/Trophies | Awards
Grand Theft Auto VILucia | Unnamed male accomplice | State of Leonida (Vice-Dale County | Kelly County | Leonard County) | Characters | Missions | Vehicles | Weapons | Radio stations | Achievements/Trophies | Cheats
Collectibles | Multiplayer | Modifications | Controversy
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